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Fun with a Pencil by Andrew Loomis was first published by Viking Press in May of 1939 and is one of the hundreds of items catalogues at the Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies. (via forgottenartsupplies.com)

Graphic design teachers are fond of recalling the old days, when cutting and pasting an image together required literally cutting and pasting — these sharp objects called scissors, a sticky gel thing known as glue, and a Xerox machine. There’s still something lovely about breaking out a compass, a pencil sharpener and a few rulers to create visual images, instead of relying solely on the Adobe Creative Suite.

The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies is an online-only museum that celebrates these relics of yesteryear. From a beautiful box of Crayola Crayons (do kids still use those anymore?) to an adjustable triangle for precision angles, from a color wheel for setting CMYK specifications to a Beatnik kit (complete with beret and long cigarette holder). And don’t think it’s just about analogue tools: there’s a great array of “Prehistoric Computers” and vertical studio cameras. The museum has to date catalogued 545 items.

The museum is the work of Lou Brooks, who notes in his bio:

A newspaper art career was about as low as you could go, but at 18, I didn’t care. When we weren’t busy, our boss would send us over to the engraving department or to the Linotype department to watch and learn. It really was an amazing education on production art, which still shows up in my work every day. Pretty soon, they had me working at the stat machine and the PhotoTypositor, or touching up stripper photos for the Trocadero Burlesk ads. Mostly putting some underwear on them. I may as well have been Vincent Van Gogh, for all I knew. I was in heaven.

Entries, however, are sent in via email or web form, and each image contains a credit to the individual who sent them in. This is a museum for collective memory, the sorts of stories a young art school student might hear from their professor but is now available for more people to click around and explore. It’s totally apropos: the objects are preserved not as objects in themselves, but as digital photos and stories. Those of us who have never laid hands on objects like these can see them but only imagine how they are used. They are preserved digitally, in the very medium that has usurped them.

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An Xiao

Artist An Xiao (aka An Xiao Mina) photographs, films, installs, performs and tweets and has shown her work in publications and galleries internationally. Find her online at @anxiaostudio...